Bourbon-soaked chocolate, quilt patterns and paintings of Kentucky scenery — products created in the Bluegrass State all have stories to tell.
Throughout Kentucky, groups can get locally made goods as well as experiences or tours that showcase the crafting behind them. Bourbon-related items from Bardstown come with talks by master distillers about the history of bourbon. Fiber art gifts remind travelers of the singular art quilts on display in Paducah’s National Quilt Museum. And at the Kentucky Artisan Center, visitors can purchase paintings, pottery and other artwork and hear stories from local artists that dreamed them up.
Groups taste delicious Kentucky products and see how they’re made at places like the Ale-8-One Bottling Company and Haney’s Appledale Farm.
Travelers can discover Kentucky-made items while learning behind-the-scenes stories about each at these five locations.
Kentucky Artisan Center
Before buying local artwork, visitors can interact with artists during their creative processes at the Kentucky Artisan Center. Every Saturday, the center hosts demonstrations by Kentucky artisans so guests can interact with them.
“The artist demonstrations allow travelers to realize there is a person behind the work,” said Gwen Heffner, curator and information specialist for the Kentucky Artisan Center. “That brings the process to life. We have educational handouts about the artist’s life and works at every demonstration.”
The 15-year-old Kentucky Artisan Center is more than a shop with local products. It aims to educate visitors about its 800 featured artisans and the processes they used. While travelers browse through crafted glass, ceramics, metal sculptures, woodworks, jewelry, specialty foods and books, they learn about the artists from informational displays and knowledgeable staff. Groups can also schedule food tastings, book signings and musical performances.
“We are one of a handful of artisan centers in the country,” said Heffner. “There is something for everyone here. We have $2 magnets up to $2,000 sculptures. There are some real one-of-a-kind pieces of art as well as things that can be reproduced like photographs. We feature the whole range of creative work.”
The site also displays approximately five rotating gallery exhibits a year that focus on a specific artist or theme. Groups can schedule gallery talks to learn more about the chosen works.
Directly off Interstate 75, the shop works well for groups seeking either a quick break or a longer educational experience. Workshops that teach a specific artform can allow visitors to learn enviable skills such as basket weaving.
The Artisan Cafe and Grill offers Kentucky favorites such as Hot Browns, fried catfish and bourbon bread pudding.